In recent months I’ve referred several times to the notion that I was blogging more than I’ve done since a long time. The actual volume of writing isn’t really important. The actual readership isn’t either (when writing my imagined reading audience is about 3 people, which includes myself). Of importance is that writing is having an impact on my attention, and on retaking the initiative in my information strategies, something I felt I lost through Facebook and other silos. For the first time since a long time I feel a genuine need to write on my blog. Yet, having said that, I was curious to see if the numbers reflect the change. So I pulled some stats together.

Let’s start with the yearly number of postings I posted since I started some 15 years ago in November 2002.

Apparent is that from the start my blogging frequency had a downwards trend. This I feel might be correlated with writing increasingly longer posts, and a reduction of short posts to simply bookmark a link or something as additional tools (such as Delicious or others) became available. In 2011 I blogged the least, followed by the years I blogged least in the entire 15 year period. Those years, at least 2013-2017, coincide with my increased FB usage (2006-2012 I hardly used it at all), but likely more importantly coincides with a reduction of blogging by those bloggers I was a regular reader of as they spent more time on FB and other platforms. In 2014 there is a small bump, which coincides with visiting a few conferences in the spring. A clear break in the trend line is 2018, which already surpasses 2006, even as it is only mid April.

Looking at the average number of postings per week provides a clearer picture of that trend line.

Over the first 7 years the average blogging frequency approaches once per week, which I interpret as my ‘less often, but longer’ blogging. Then a number of years where blogging drops below the once a week threshold, during which years I felt I really should be blogging more. The renewed interest I took in my blog from the last quarter of last year clearly causes a spike. It’s still an open question if that increased frequency proves sustainable. I am at least aware of the pitfall of wanting to write long exposes only, and how to blog more informally and indiscriminately.

The sharp change in the trend line is most apparent when zooming in on individual months. I sharply reduced my engagement with FB starting in October last year, and it is clearly visible how that impacted my urge to blog.

Ironically my renewed blogging fervour mimicks the first year(s) of blogging in the sense that I’ve been writing a number of these postings about blogging itself. Meta-blogging like it’s 2002. So after this self-indulging dive into the statistics of my blog, let me express my intention to focus more on actual topics. 🙂

3 reactions on “Back to the Blog, the Numbers

  1. Yesterday at State of the Net I showed some of the work I did with the great Frysklab team, letting a school class find power in creating their own solutions. We had a I think very nicely working triade of talks in our session, Hossein Derakshan first, me in the middle, and followed by Dave Snowden. In his talk, Dave referenced my preceding one, saying it needed scaling for the projects I showed to alter anything. Although I know Dave Snowden didn’t mean his call for scale that way, often when I hear it, it is rooted in the demand-for-ever-more-growth type of systems we know cannot be sustained in a closed world system like earth’s. The small world syndrom, as I named it at Shift 2010, will come biting.
    It so often also assumes there needs to be one person or entity doing the scaling, a scaler. Distributed networks don’t need a scaler per se.
    The internet was not created that way, nor was the Web. Who scaled RSS? Some people moved it forwards more than others, for certain, but unconnected people, just people recognising a possibility to fruitfully build on others for something they felt personally needed. Dave Winer spread it with Userland, made it more useful, and added the possibility of having the payload be something else than just text, have it be podcasts. We owe him a lot for the actual existence of this basic piece of web plumbing. Matt Mullenweg of WordPress and Ben and Mena Trott of Movable Type helped it forward by adding RSS to their blogging tools, so people like me could use it ‘out of the box’. But it actually scaled because bloggers like me wanted to connect. We recognised the value of making it easy for others to follow us, and for us to follow the writings of others. So I and others created our own templates, starting from copying something someone else already made and figuring out how to use RSS. It is still how I adopt most of my tools. Every node in a network is a scaler, by doing something because it is of value to themselves in the moment, changes them, and by extension adding themselves to the growing number of nodes doing it. Some nodes may take a stronger interest in spreading something, convincing others to adopt something, but that’s about it. You might say the source of scaling is the invisible hand of networks.
    That’s why I fully agree with Chris Hardie that in the open web, all the tools you create need to have the potentiality of the network effect built in. Of course, when something is too difficult for most to copy or adapt, then there won’t be this network effect. Which is why most of the services we see currently dominating online experiences, the ones that shocked Hossein upon returning from his awful forced absence, are centralised services made very easy to use. Where someone was purposefully aiming for scale, because their business depended on it once they recognised their service had the potential to scale.
    Dave Winer yesterday suggested the blogosphere is likely bigger now than when it was so dominantly visible in the ‘00s, when your blogpost of today could be Google’s top hit for a specific topic, when I could be found just on my first name. But it is so much less visible than before, precisely because it is not centralised, and the extravagant centralised silos stand out so much. The blogosphere diminished itself as well however, Dave Winer responded to Hossein Derakshan’s talk yesterday.
    People still blog, more people blog than before, but we no longer build the same amount of connections across blogs. Connections we were so in awe of when our writing first proved to have the power to create them. Me and many others, bloggers all, suckered ourselves into feeling blog posts needed to be more like reporting, essays, and took our conversations to the comments on Facebook. Facebook, which, as Hossein Derakshan pointed out, make such a travesty of what web links are by allowing them only as separate from the text you write on Facebook. It treats all links as references to articles, not allowing embedding them in the text, or allowing more than one link to be presented meaningfully. That further reinforced the blog-posts-as-articles notions. That further killed the link as weaving a web of distributed conversations, a potential source of meaning. Turned the web, turned your timeline, into TV, as Hossein phrased it.
    Hoder on ‘book-internet’ (blogs) and ‘tv-internet’ (FB et al) Tweet by Anna Masera
    I switched off my tv ages ago. And switched off my FB tv-reincarnate nine months ago. In favour of allowing myself more time to write as thinking out loud, to have conversations.
    Adriana Lukas and I after the conference, as we sat there enjoying an Italian late Friday afternoon over drinks, talked about the Salons of old. How we both have created through the years settings like that, Quantified Self meetings, BlogWalks, Birthday Unconferences, and how we approached online sharing like that too. To just add some of my and your ramblings to the mix. Starting somewhere in the middle, following a few threads of thought and intuitions, adding a few links (as ambient humanity), and ending without conclusions. Open ended. Just leaving it here.


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